Gung Ho

Year: 1986
Directed By: Ron Howard
Written By: Edwin Blum, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel

No trailer was available.


This is a movie about culture clashes and I always enjoy those because they can teach us so much about the differences between us. In this movie it is the efficient and hardworking culture of Japan versus the “me first” attitude of the American culture. I think this is a great movie that doesn’t get enough recognition today. It has a timeless quality to it and it is a movie we can learn from so it should have more of a presence in our culture today.

I have been hearing a story my entire life that revolves around this movie. When it came out in 1986 my dad was managing a theater that it was playing in. My mother and grandmother had gone into to see the movie one night and I think it was during the baseball scene that my grandmother created an uproar in the theater. When George Wendt knocked down the Japanese player everybody in the theater started cheering and apparently it really bothered my grandmother, who has never feared to speak her mind. She stood up in the theater and let the cheering people know exactly what she thought of their reaction. It wasn’t an appropriate action in truth, what Wendt’s character did was cheap and shameful. Later during the movie my dad came to investigate what he had heard about and he sat down with my mom and grandmother and asked them to point out the crazy person who had made everybody angry. It became an awkward situation that both parents talked about for some time. Making it even funnier is that I hear a completely different versions of this story regularly from my long since divorced parents.

There is another story about this movie that I will also be telling for years to come. I got into Twitter a few months ago after a long time of refusing to give it a chance. I am not big on social networking and Twitter seemed like the stupidest form of the new communications form to me. I was wrong though, and I can admit that now. I got into Twitter specifically for this blog and we have gained a lot more traffic since I started. Well, about a month or so ago I saw that Ron Howard had retweeted someone who had tweeted him that they were watching one of his old movies. Well I checked the shelf and saw this movie coming up so I tweeted him that we were watching it soon. Howard retweeted me and responded that he really enjoyed making the film. Now I know that isn’t really a big deal in the Twitter world but it was a huge deal to me. I grew up watching Howard on The Andy Griffith Show and then on Happy Days because my dad was a huge fan of both shows. As a child Howard became even more endeared to me with films like Willow that I thought was the greatest thing ever as a young boy. I have lived most of my life in North Carolina and we all love Ron Howard down here. I actually go to Mt. Airy regularly for work and The Andy Griffith Show is still a big deal there. The loss of Andy recently was sad news all around and he will always be remembered fondly here, just as Ron Howard will always be thought of in high regard.

In this movie we see two very different cultures clash. When they begin they run into the typical problems between two peoples but by the end they learn to appreciate one another. The actions of the American are based mostly on arrogance and ignorance. Americans do not like foreign people coming in and telling them how to do things, or that they don’t do things the right way. There has always been a certain air of superiority that comes with being an American. It’s not our fault really; it’s just part of growing up in post WWII America. I like to think that we always have the ability to be better though and I think you can see that in this film. The Americans have their flaws but they do eventually earn the respect of the Japanese and vice versa. The American spirit to never give up in the face of adversity is a quality I think most of us are proud of, but we have been spoiled by freedom and prosperity. This movie may be twenty six years old now but I don’t know that the things we see in this movie have really changed much sad as that is. Of course I have always grown up in the south, maybe things are different in other parts of the country but I have my doubts. This movie is also still relevant today as it gives an idea of how long the automotive companies were a problem for America.  The economic crisis that has ensnared the U.S. in recent years can be directly tied to, among other things, the automotive industry.

I am a big fan of Michael Keaton and he does a great job in the lead role. Mimi Rodgers plays the female lead opposite Keaton and does well. This film also has a good supporting cast playing the American workers including John Turturro, George Wendt, and Ron Howard’s little brother Clint Howard. Clint Howard is often cast in his brother’s films; he also casts his parents frequently. I didn’t notice his mom in this one but you can see his dad, Rance Howard, as the town mayor that greats the Japanese when they arrive. The Japanese cast was all great as well and they actually reprised their roles on a short lived TV series based off the movie.

This is a movie I always enjoy watching and I think it is still relevant today. It was made by one of my all time favorite directors, starred an actor I really like, and told a story I learned from. I think this movie is more than worth your time and I would recommend it to anyone.


I think the first time I ever saw this movie was last year some time. I was surprised, like I usually am when we come to a movie that I have never seen before. I like to think that I have seen all of the movies that “we” own, but I am always surprised when we come across one that I haven’t. This was one that I wished I had been watching for a lot longer. I thoroughly enjoy this movie.

Ironically, this movie shows how Japanese and American cultures interact. I say ironically because we just reviewed Guess Who, which also revolves around race relations. Gung Ho shows how the cultures are different and alike and how those cultures value things differently. In Japanese culture, it is important to show your work ethic. That you are a contributing member of a team working toward a goal. Your honor is a stake. I think for Americans, life is more important outside of work. The fun times you have with friends and family. Work is mainly something that you do to make money in order to do the things that are more fun to do. We look at hard work differently. Neither one is better than the other and I think we can all learn to be better, adopting the positives from each other.

I really recommend this movie. I really enjoy almost everything Ron Howard makes and this one is no different.

NEXT MOVIE: Half Baked (1998)

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